After missing almost the whole 2019 season due to injury Ben Roethlisberger is poised for a big comeback.
While I’m not a fan of this man, he’s undeniably a great player and given the problems the Steelers had with their quarterback situation last year, I’m sure most Steelers fans want to see him back. Even though Duck Hodges is undeniably one of the best personalities in the sport, his play isn’t quite up to scratch.
I’m a betting man so my money is on Big Ben winning the comeback player of the year with the weapons around him.
Todd Gurley – RB, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons landed the former first round running back, giving him a one year deal worth $5.5 Million.
Now this is more of a risky pick given Gurley’s history with injuries, but provided he can stay healthy, Gurley will want to prove what a mistake the Rams made by dropping him the way they did.
The Atlanta Falcons have a ton of weapons going into this season, so look for Gurley to be a big part of this offence and, health permitting, make a big comeback.
Baker Mayfield – QB, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield was, to put it bluntly, a complete shambles last year. After a record-breaking rookie season Mayfield was poised to come in and bring the Browns their first winning season in years. He sadly flopped. You knew by midseason that hacks like Colin Cowherd were foaming at the mouth watching the Browns struggle to put it together come game time, despite their stacked roster.
The biggest reason for the Browns underperformance was having a first time head coach trying to manage a team full of talent and strong personalities. Oh, and instead of getting an extra piece for their offensive line, they just added OBJ and gave up a first round pick. Never change, Cleveland. Never change.
Mayfield has the talent to be a top tier quarterback in the league, and provided he gets the right attention in camp and stays away from filming so many endorsement deals, I see Mayfield being a serious contender for comeback player of the year in 2020.
Mathew Stafford – QB, Detroit Lions
Until his unfortunate injury last season, Matthew Stafford was looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He ranked 8th amongst quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus grading from week 1 to week 9; no small feat.
Now factor in all the weapons this offence has. TJ Hockenson, Kenny Golliday, Danny Amendola and now D’Andre Swift (Top receiving running back in the draft) among others.
If Stafford can start the season strong, and even string together some decent wins for the Lions, there’s no reason we can’t see Stafford take this award home for a second time. Honestly, Stafford has a good a chance as any.
J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans
It’s a shame that a man like J.J. Watt has been so unlucky with injuries. One of the best defensive players in the league and, before Aaron Donald came along, probably the best pass rusher, it’s fitting that the only person that can slow down J.J. Watt is J.J. Watt.
Provided he can stay healthy next year as the Texans push for another run at the playoffs, he’s going to be a force. It would be really great to see the former Walter Peyton man of the year award winner add a comeback player of the year award to his collection.
At 31, Watt’s days in the NFL may soon come to a close, so a return to form would be a fitting conclusion to a storied career. Watch for J.J. to leave it all on the field this year if he can stay healthy.
The 2020 NFL is only months away and one of the biggest questions still remains unanswered… Is Jarrett Stidham any good?
This is uncharted territory for the Patriots. They’ve not had uncertainty at the quarterback position for 20 years. I think the biggest question here is how good can the patriots be without Tom Brady? If we look at it objectively then the Patriots can be just as good with Jarrett Stidham under center given how he stacks up and his coachability. Let’s run through what the Patriots offence has to work with and what makes Jarrett Stidham the Patriots quarterback of the future.
Who is Jarrett Stidham? Is he the next Tom Brady? I’m not sure anyone will be, but he isn’t a scrub that will fall flat on his face. Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive on the Auburn QB entering his 2nd year in the NFL.
Let’s look at his College profile:
The numbers look OK, but he wasn’t asked to do too much of anything. Screens and short passes (Stidham had one of the greater target shares of passing attempts behind the line of scrimmage in his class). His accuracy anywhere near downfield was average at best, and struggled when pressured. However, that doesn’t usually bother New England the Patriots, just look at Tom Brady and his knocks as he was picked #199 overall. We all know the patriots look at what a player CAN do, rather than what they can’t.
Next, I’m going to start by laying out Stidham’s preseason stats for you so you can get some numbers on him. Stidham completed 61 of 90 passes for 731 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also tallied 17 carries for 88 yards on the ground. In the regular season, everyone will remember his pick 6 to safety Jamaal Adams against the Jets and ultimately being benched after being brought in to see the game out, but the foot was hardly on the accelarator. If only Bill and co. had let Stidham try and play some meaningful snaps. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from 4 regular season pass attempts, even if you completed 2 to your team and 1 to the other.
Like I always say though, stats are only half of the story and watching Stidham is where you really get a sense of how he operates.
During his 4 pre-season games he displayed solid pocket awareness knowing when to step up and when to tuck and run if needed. While accuracy was solid he does sometimes need to let his passes go a second or two earlier to hit players in stride. He does have great arm strength and a great understanding on how NFL defenses operate. This IQ allows Stidham to make the right calls in high pressure situations that would avoid turnovers and keep the ball in the Patriots hands.
However, a year behind Brady and learning from Belichick/McDaniels will do wonders for Stidham and he couldn’t really be placed any better to overcome his flaws.
So what has Stidham got to work with? And what state are the Patriots in?
The Patriot’s 2019 offence ranked 8th is passing yards, 18th in rushing yards and 7th in points for. They were 21st in yards per play (5.2), but 13th in total 1st downs (338) and 3rd in total plays. This shows what we all knew about the Patriots offence last year; methodical and efficiently effective, maintaining drives and usually came away with points.
This is all with Tom Brady under center of course, can Jarrett Stidham come in and elevate his game to the level required? And what of those weapons still at his disposal?
Well the first name that comes to mind is veteran wide receiver and Patriots folk hero, Julian Edelman. Despite battling injuries last year Edelman was still Tom Brady’s number one target throughout the season, hitting the century mark for receptions for just the second time in his career which probably says more about the offence in general rather than Edelman’s achievement.
You look at the stats, you’ll see that Edelman’s 2019 was pretty much the eptiome of his career: about 11 yards per target, 6 or 7 TDs and over 3 first downs per game. Edelman is as reliable as they come and it will be interesting to see if Edleman stays with the Patriots with Tom gone, and whether Stidham utilises him in the same way.
Next up 1st round draft pick N’Keal Harry. Sidelined until week 8 of the 2019 campaign Harry did not live up to his 1st round draft capital investment and looked to struggle on the field. Reports from camp last year did seem to show some significant chemistry between him and Stidham though which is a good sign going forwards. Many are also predicting a massive leap forward in year 2.
Now lets move to some of the lesser known guys or players with more things to prove at wide receiver; Jakobi Meyers.
The undrafted free agent had a very pedestrian season last year but he does have a ton of potential and a crazy work ethic which really puts him in a good position inside the patriots organization. The additions of Will Hastings (Jarrett Stidham’s slot receiver from Auburn) former Jaguar Marquise Lee and former Cardinal Damiere Byrd adding some extra veterans to the roster probably doesn’t inspire confidence, but the Patriot way has never really been to have household names unless you are named Randy Moss or Rob Gronkowski.
A name slightly more well known though is Mohammed Sanu, someone who really disappointed last year. I know, I know…he got injured but even then…average at best. While I expect Gunner to see the field too, I don’t think he’ll do more than return punts and kicks in 2020.
At running back we really have some better options and great variety. Let’s start with a personal favorite of mine, James “Sweetfeet” White. White gives this patriots offence a ton of options. He can catch, run and is a real problem for teams in this regard. I expect him to be a great checkdown option for Stidham and a guy who will probably have more receiving yards than he will rushing yards just due to guys like Sony Michel and Damien Harris being a better fit to carry the rock.
Can the Patriots feed Michel, Harris, White and Bolden? That remains to be seen but it’s a bonus for Stidham to have such a wide range of support on the ground. I know I didn’t mention Rex Burkhead but it’s a belief of mine that he’ll be cut before the season begins.
Lastly, let’s talk about tight ends. If I’m being 100 percent honest, I don’t think Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacosse make the final 53 and fully expecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene to be the starters come opening week. Both Asiasi and Keene are massive upgrades over Lacosse and Izzo with solid hands but some shortcomings in their blocking game.
To summarise, this Patriots offence is just one or two pieces short of being elite. I can easily see the Patriots slipping into a wildcard slot this year giving Stidham is first taste of post season action. I think 10-6 is a very fair record prediction and not at all a reach like many people would have you believe. I have my ear very close to the ground when it comes to the Patriots and everything I’m hearing is good going forward.
So whilst we know Stidham won’t be asked to come in and be Tom Brady, what will he be, and what will he be asked to do?
Given his play at Auburn it’s clear Stidham can lead and offence and win games, the NFL is different in many ways. This season Stidham won’t be held back though, the coaching staff has belief in him and will expect him to make plays. He’s going to have veteran Julian Edelman in the slot for him, man mountain N’Keal Harry who will be able to high point ball in the endzone and tons of help in the backfield allowing Stidham to check down for 3 to 5 yards when there’s no other options. The offence the Patriots ran with Tom Brady is gone. Due to Stidham being more mobile and having a bigger arm than Brady, look for the play calling to open up a bit more for some designed quarterback runs and some deeper passes down field.
I could talk forever about what Stidham is capable of but the proof is in the pudding. I’m going to throw out some prediction numbers for his first season as an NFL starter and would love to hear what you guys think over on our social media channels, even if it’s to hurl abuse at me!
With Stidham at the helm I see the Patriots going 10-6, Stidham will pass for 3,500 yards, 27 touchdowns and 15 interceptions along with 300 yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns with his feet. Optimistic? Sure, but unrealistic? No, not with the greatest coach to ever do it backing him. Let’s get hyped for the 2020 season Patriots fans, and let’s enjoy life after Tom.
That’s my opinion, but what’s YOURS? Let us know on the social media. Do you think Stidham will be a success? Or is it time for the AFC East have a new king atop of its mountain.
If you enjoyed this article please remember to give it a share and follow me on social media, find me on Instagram @DustCoveredCleats and on twitter @DCCYTFootball and I’ll see you guys in the next article.
With the news coming out about the Cleveland Browns reportedly turning down the Seattle Seahawks offering up Russell Wilson for the first round pick they used to draft Baker Mayfield, I thought it would be a great idea to look back at other proposed trades that would’ve shaken up the NFL landscape.
How many of these do you remember? If there are any you think are missing, please hit us up over on Twitter @Full10Yards!
Aaron Rodgers to the Oakland Raiders
Back in 2007, Aaron Rodgers was still backing up Brett Farve in Green Bay when the Raiders put Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss on the trade block. Aaron Rodgers for Randy Moss would’ve been a hell of a trade. The reason this trade didn’t go through?
Green Bay wanted a first round pick and Moss for Aaron Rodgers. Moss ended up landing in New England and not only setting multiple records with Tom Brady but going 16-0 in THAT regular season.
Rumours surfacing once again about Aaron Rodgers and whether or not he will start and finish his career at Lambeau Field. Are the Raiders FINALLY gonna get to see A Rod?
Ben Roethlisberger to the Oakland Raiders/St. Louis Rams.
Now this one might be surprising to anyone who doesn’t keep up with the off field stories of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is far from the perfect teammate; he consistently airs team dirty laundry on his radio show, he thinks he’s the GM and not just a player and struggles to get on with most of his star players.
This isn’t just hearsay though, it’s well documented and this is why I think there’s weight behind this trade. In 2010 it was reported that the Steelers organization was fed up with Big Ben and his behavior that was causing trouble inside the organization and were looking at offers.
The Steelers approached Oakland and offered them Ben and the number 18 pick for the number 8 pick. Oakland said no. They also approached the St. Louis Rams and offered to trade Ben for Sam Bradford who had just completed his rookie year…the Rams said no, and that was that. Big Ben stayed in Pittsburgh and continued to annoy and alienate teammates.
Dan Marino to the Oakland Raiders
(I mean seriously? I promise this is the last Oakland one…or is it?)
In 1989, the Miami Dolphins had a very average 8-8 season leading them to another year of missing the playoffs. This wasn’t something Don Shula was happy with so they he thought the best course of action would be to change the signal caller, who was legendary quarterback…Dan Marino.
Shula managed to secure a verbal agreement with Raiders Al Davis but last minute the deal fell through, why? Shula got cold feet and upped the asking price for Marino. Twice. The price was too steep, even for Davis. Miami and Marino still never managed to win a Super Bowl.
It’s one of the one things Marino would be remembered for the one of the best quarterbacks to never win a Lombardi.
Eli Manning to the Jacksonville Jaguars
Going into the 2017/2018 season the Jags were really not happy with their Quarterback situation Blake Bortles wasn’t really cutting it.
The Jaguars needed a solution so they looked north to New York and set their sights on Eli Manning. The 2 time Super Bowl champion had been playing to put it lightly…terrible, but the Jags liked Manning for his Super Bowl experience and his former coach Tom Coughlin was running the Jacksonville front office.
Why didn’t this happen? Blake had a decent season which killed the interest in the trade from the Jags end. Shame Bortles went back to his usual self next season and the “Sacksonville” era was over before it even got started.
Odell Beckham Jr. to The Los Angeles Rams.
A couple of years before he got shipped out to Cleveland for a 1st round pick and Jabrill Peppers the Rams showed serious interest in Odell Beckham Jr.
What did the New York Football Giants want for the spectacular wide receiver? They asked the Rams for two 1st round picks and the Rams only wanted to give them one.
That’s a high price but the Browns eventually paid a similar price giving the Giants a 1st round pick and a 1st round player in Peppers. OBJ has yet to shine in Cleveland would the same thing have happened in LA?
Antonio Brown to the Buffalo Bills
Okay, so this did/didn’t happen but everyone (kinda) remembers where they were when this went down. It was reported that the Steelers had agreed to send AB to the Bills
Twitter did it’s thing once it turned out that this wasn’t going to go through. Antonio Brown ended up being traded to the Oakland Raiders (why always Oakland?) but even then, he didn’t see the field in a Raiders Jersey, being “set free” to eventually wind up in New England for a game before unceremoniously leaving the league and trying to return ever since.